30 November 2001

Rubber-tracked Predator offers best of both worlds

By Andy Collings

THE ever innovative Richard Larrington rolled out his latest development this week – the £200,000 rubber tracked Predator which has been designed to be both a tractor and a load carrier.

With components sourced from a variety of manufacturers, sitting below a Challenger 95 bonnet is a 400hp Cummins engine which drives three Linde oil pumps – two for the tracks wheel motors and one for external hydraulic power. Top speed is currently 12kph, but there are plans to increase this.

The Predators track system comprises 800mm wide, 4.37m long rubber tracks with an internal tooth-ed drive at the front – overall width is 3.6m. Ten pairs of idler wheels spread the vehicles weight along the length of the tracks to create a fully loaded ground pressure of 5.5psi.

Each group of four idlers share a common pivot point to allow ground contact to be maintained when travelling over uneven terrain. Track tensioning is via a hydraulic ram and a gas accumulator system, with tension only activated when the engine is running.

Operating quarters, accessed by steps from either side, are provided by a New Holland TM tractor cab. Inside, Larrington has bucked the trend for steering wheel use and has chosen to steer the vehicle with two levers positioned to the right of the operator.

Each lever controls the flow of oil to a tracks wheel motor and instigates turns accordingly. Pushing both levers forward increases speed and pulling them back slows and then, after the central point has been passed, puts the vehicle into reverse. It is, in essence, very much like a combine transmission control.

A series of spool valve levers are responsible for a rear three-point linkage control – top link extension, arms lift and lower – and two external hydraulic outlets. The three-point linkage currently lacks any refinement in terms of draft control but Mr Larrington says future models will be suitably equipped.

There is no denying the Pred-ator, with its forward, over hanging bonnet and 35t capacity hopper is a stylish looking machine which should turn the eye of all see her.

This model, sold to a Carlisle-based peat harvesting company, will be employed for six months of the year carting peat and the other six months pulling out V-shaped drainage ditches.

Mr Larrington, enthusiastic as ever, has plans to further develop the machine. "Clearly for general agricultural use the machine is too wide. But converting it to tractor use is not that difficult – with the hopper removed, the engine and cab is simply slipped back on the chassis to more central position. We would also fit a 1000rpm pto."

But that is not all Mr Larrington has plans for. Remember the New Holland Bi-directional tractor which was tentatively trialed in the UK? Well, Mr Larrington says New Holland has now decided not to make it available for UK use through its dealer outlets but is allowing access to the machine by OEMs.

He now intends to convert these 140hp articulated tractors to tracked machines – equipping them with Quadtrac-type track units on each corner.

"This is a really exciting project," he enthuses. "We will have to make some alterations to the tractors to make room for the tracks when turns are made but I believe the market for such machines could be interesting." &#42

Look, no steering wheel. Larrington has decided to employ lever steerage control for the Predator.

Richard Larringtons 400hp Predator gets its first outing at the firms Boston HQ.

LARRINGTONPREDATORDETAILS

Power 400hp Cummins.

Transmission Hydrostatic. Individual oil pumps for each track.

Steering Twin lever system controlling flow to tracks.

Cab New Holland derivative.

Hopper capacity 35t.

Ground loading maximum weight 5.5psi.

Tracks 800mm wide, 4.37m long.

Price £200,000.